When you think about Seville, the most common images related to Spain quickly pop up. Toreros and flamenco, thousands of years of history, unforgetable blue skies, romantic cobbled-alleys, traces of Romans and Arabs, exotic tanned women and a never ending nightlife. Seville has it all.
However, if you are looking for a different Spain, modern and far away from traditions then go somewhere else.
This is the city Merimee described in 'Carmen' and the town Hemingway raved about when writing novels on bullfights. Once the heart of the Moorish empire, the capital of Andalucia is a crossroad of religion, popular fiestas and culture. So if you ever dreamt of wandering around squares surrounded by orange trees and taking a romantic ride through its green parks on an elegant horse drawn carriage, then Seville is for you.
What are you waiting for? You dream is about to come true.
Wander around the city and don't be afraid to get lost. Make sure you stay in the center, one of the biggest in Europe, and you'll experience the wonders of Seville's highlights as well as other hidden gems no travel guide told you about.
The Arenal is the bullfighting neighborhood, with La Maestranza being its main reference -and look for the best tapas bars around. The historic Barrio de Santa Cruz is probably the most picturesque part of the city, although the often overlooked San Vicente -with the impressive Plaza de San Lorenzo deserves a long walk.
Don't miss two very popular areas: La Alfalfa and La Macarena where things are done slowly. It's the real Seville's way of life. And cross the Guadalquivir river to enter the beautiful and authentic Triana. Once the neighborhood of sailors and craftsmen (tiles), today this area is one the cradles of flamenco.
Speaking of flamenco and popular traditions, the Feria de Abril is a never ending parade of dressing up and dancing, traditional costumes and horses, daily bullfights and carriage rides. On the contrary, the Semana Santa is a dark time of sadness, repentance and one of the most impressive cultural events in Spain. Sevillanos wait for a whole year and prepare themselves for both Semana Santa and the Feria.
Finally, timing is important here. 'When in Rome, do as the Romans do' hence never lunch before 2pm, never dine before 9.30pm, never go to bed before 1am -no matter the time of year. Mingle with Sevillanos, feel the slow pace of the city and practice our favorite hobby: socializing.
Contrary to what you might believe, I am not originally from Seville. I came here more than ten years ago and fell in love right away! I have spent most of this time walking around the city (no, I don't have a car) searching for hidden gems and running away from the hordes of tourists. Usually this means exploring places and corners even locals don't know about...
I've sat where you sit.
I didn't know a single thing about the city except for the typical tourist information about the main sights. It turns out I very soon realized that Seville is one of most beautiful cities in Europe. But providing a fresh and new perspective was something I always cared about when friends and relatives came over.
In fact, I've writting the guide I wish I could have read when I moved here. The only way to know a place is to discover it with the help of an expert, someone who knows where to enjoy the best tapas, when is best to visit the Casa de Pilatos and how to live the Semana Santa from the inside.
I've been lucky enough to become an adoptive Sevillana throughout the years. So sharing my experience with you sounds like a good idea, don't you think?
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